By CDFA Secretary Karen Ross
Thank you to California’s farmers, ranchers and farm workers for feeding us and supporting our food banks as they provide nourishment to the people who depend on them.
Almost overnight, California farmers and ranchers have watched their market decrease by 50 percent. At a time when agriculture is suffering from market disruption, California families are struggling to put healthy food on the table and food banks have seen a 73 percent increase in demand over last year. Yesterday’s announcement from Governor Newsom aims to address that mismatch and connect California’s producers with our food banks.
We are pleased to announce that we are further scaling up our partnership with Farm to Family, a program through the California Association of Food Banks (CAFB) that works with farmers, ranchers, packers and shippers to get California farm products from the field to 41 food banks throughout the state. To date, more than 128 companies have stepped up to the challenge and have donated more than 20 million pounds in April (a two-fold increase over March). Thank you to those who are feeding the need. And I am inspired by the outpouring of interest since yesterday’s announcement.
What was announced?
We have secured $2 million in USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant funding for CAFB to support harvesting, packing and shipping of donated specialty crop products. In addition, the state Department of Social Services has more than $860,000 in USDA Farm to Food Bank dollars to the CAFB to further support the Farm to Family Program. Philanthropy has stepped up and committed $775,000, and is also launching a $15 million campaign to feed the need and support our farmers, farm workers, and food banks.
What can you do?
There are three options:
*Donate product directly to a local food bank.
*Contact the Farm to Family Program for more information about assistance with harvesting, packing and shipping. The funding we announced will support financial assistance of up-to 15 cents per pound on eligible California grown specialty crop products. You may also qualify for a 15 percent tax credit on donations. Entities wishing to donate should register with the Farm to Family Program. Donations to the program are limited to larger volumes (1/2 to full truckloads).
For non-specialty crop items, the CAFB will work with producers on the best options. Depending on the type of donated products – totes, bins, cases and consumer packs (nuts/dried fruit) are the needed packaging for food bank distribution.
*If you don’t have product but want to support this crucial program, please consider joining the philanthropic campaign by donating to CAFB at https://donatenow.networkforgood.org/1407080.
And when you donate food or cash, please join our social media campaign by sharing online with #FarmersFeedtheNeed.
This effort is a prime example of farmers and ranchers, farm workers, and philanthropists coming together to support and nourish our communities in need. My deep gratitude to all of you.